Five outstanding real estate projects from across the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region have been announced as recipients of the 2021 ULI Europe Awards for Excellence, with two others honored with Special Mentions. The winners, each of which demonstrates a comprehensive level of quality and a forward-looking approach to development and design, include two projects in the United Kingdom and one each in Germany, Belgium, and Portugal. Projects in Greece and the Ukraine were selected for the Special Mentions.

All the winning projects have demonstrated key attributes related to flexibility, reuse, and resilience in light of the challenges to real estate imposed by the global pandemic. They were commended for being examples of best practices in their respective areas of real estate, ranging from affordable and mixed-tenure housing to regeneration of industrial sites, community building, circular building with an emphasis on reuse and sustainability, and city and town center regeneration.

The winning projects, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

  • EDGE Grand Central, Berlin, Germany. Developer: EDGE; owner: Nuveen Real Estate; designer: Bolwin Wulf Architekten. EDGE has long been heralded for driving digital innovation and sustainability in real estate, and Grand Central Berlin is proof again of this commitment. Located next to Berlin Central Station, EDGE Grand Central makes smart use of the latest technologies, which facilitate the most efficient operation of the property. About 3,500 innovative multi-sensors supply data based on different parameters for smart, needs-based, and sustainable building management. The various uses of the building are supported by an internet protocol (IP) backbone and a cloud-based building management system in which all data are collected and analyzed. It is the first building in Germany pre-certified for both the DGNB Platinum and WELL Core v2 Gold certifications.
  • Gare Maritime, Brussels, Belgium. Developer/owner: Extensa Group; designers: Neutelings Riedijk ArchitectenBureau Bouwtechniek. Gare Maritime is an ambitious urban regeneration project that has repurposed a former freight station to serve as a highly sustainable new forum where people can live, eat, work, play, and learn. It consists of 323,000 square feet (30,000 sq m) of work space; 108,000 square feet (10,000 sq m) of retail space; a 27,000-square-foot (2,500 sq m) food hall; an 80,700-square-foot (7,500 sq m) equipment space; and spaces serving other functions, such as events spaces. The building, which has been redesigned by architecture firm Neutelings Riedijk, will be the new focal point of the entire Tour & Taxis former industrial site. The implementation and results of the Gare Maritime project are an example in circular building. The integrity of the century-old industrial building has been preserved in the redevelopment process, while its function has been modernized with durability in mind.
  • Harrow Square, London, United Kingdom. Developer: Hyde New Homes/Barratt West London joint venture; owner: Hyde New Homes; designer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM. Harrow Square is an outstanding example of how first-class architecture and urban densification can contribute to social equity, inclusion, and community growth. It consists of a new mixed-use development in Harrow on the Hill, Greater London, with 318 apartments, a public library, retail spaces, and a new public square spread across a series of cascading low- to mid-rise buildings. Located within walking distance of the Harrow-on-the-Hill station—a major interchange linking rail, metro, and bus networks—Harrow Square is a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly development with a diverse building program and a contemporary, refined architectural sensibility.
  • LX Factory, Lisbon, Portugal. Developer: Keys REIM; owner: Catumbel–Investimentos Imobiliários e Turísticos S.A. LX Factory is an ambitious and creative project that has turned a former industrial site into a vibrant part of the Lisbon. Located in the Alcantara area, the project started with the objective to host a creative hub occupied by industry professionals, restaurants, and art, combined with a diverse range of events in fields such as fashion, art, architecture, and music, generating a dynamic that has created an anchor project for Lisbon and reinvented the wider area. Following the momentum created by LX Factory, the area, located next to the docks, is now going through a major urban revitalization with the construction of 861,000 square feet (80,000 sq m) of a multisector greenfield development that includes residential, office, retail, health care, and hospitality uses.
  • Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration, Wokingham, United Kingdom. Developer: Wokingham Borough Council. Owner: Wokingham Borough Council; designer: Benoy. This completed mixed-use project not only provided a focal point to the community throughout the pandemic, but is also likely to be a future-proof development as residents spend more time working from home and less time commuting into nearby employment centers, including London. Closely following the Wokingham Borough Council’s vision, the town center was reimagined as a thriving destination for commerce and urban living, with modern retail formats, food and beverage uses, leisure uses, and a significant amount of residential space across two mixed-use developments at Peach Place and Elms Field. This would create a much-enhanced town center offer for 10,000 new homes being delivered at the town’s southern periphery. The combined regeneration of the two sites is expected to create 750 local jobs, £21 million (US$29 million) in additional wages contributing to the local economy, £2 million (US$2.8 million) in additional annual tourism spending, and affordable housing in the town center, as well as act as a catalyst for further regeneration.

The jury recognised two other projects with Special Mentions:

  • Piraeus Port Plaza, Piraeus, Greece (Repurposing category). An interesting example of a former industrial property being repurposed as a modern commercial workplace.
  • Renovation, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine (Social Value category, and Creative Placemaking/Arts & Culture/Community Engagement category). The Promprylad.Renovation project has repurposed a former industrial factory site founded in the early 20th century and used for a blacksmith and locksmith’s workshop and a production site for space travel, electricity meters, radios, and even umbrellas.

This year’s ULI Europe Awards for Excellence winners, chosen from among 33 initial project submissions, were announced during a virtual ceremony in July, bringing together real estate professionals from around the world.

“In an extremely challenging year, these laudable projects demonstrate what can be achieved with great ambition and a flexible approach,” said Giancarlo Scotti, chair of the 2021 ULI Europe Awards for Excellence jury. “The quality of the entries was extremely high, but the winners stood out as case studies that highlight some of the best initiatives around currently, particularly with regard to housing, sustainability, circular building, regeneration, and community building. We believe that they will prove valuable for ULI members and others in the industry to learn from.”

“The EMEA region has many projects which exemplify ULI’s mission to shape the built environment for transformative impact,” said Marnix Galle, chair of ULI Europe. “Each of the finalists deserves recognition for their submissions. I congratulate the winners and the Special Mentions for their work in creating forward-looking developments that push boundaries and inspire others, both in their communities and abroad.”

“Each year, the bar is set higher and higher in terms of submissions, finalists, and winners,” said Lisette van Doorn, ULI Europe chief executive officer. “The winners this year showcased the ingenuity of all stakeholders involved in the projects across the EMEA region, including developers, city councils, designers, and investors, establishing best-practice examples for future projects. I want to thank everyone who submitted a design, and especially congratulate the winners and Special Mentions. We look forward to seeing how these projects continue to have a positive impact in their local communities.”

The ULI Europe Awards for Excellence recognize superior development efforts across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. They are a regional extension of the ULI Global Awards for Excellence program, which dates back to 1979.